For those who did not attend the Wakefield Park meeting on 19-20 April, you may not want to know that you missed out witnessing one of the better race meetings involving AF2 cars, albeit with a very disappointing number entered. You will want to...
For those who did not attend the Wakefield Park meeting on 19-20 April, you may not want to know that you missed out witnessing one of the better race meetings involving AF2 cars, albeit with a very disappointing number entered.
You will want to know that you missed out on some appalling weather on the Friday. The amount of rain even coaxed Ted Dunford into purchasing a new set of monsoon tyres to replace those he and the previous owners of the Reynard have had since Italy in 1991.
Bad luck for Ted however, as the weather on Saturday and Sunday was superb.
Qualifying saw our cars circulating in the 61 to 65 second bracket which was rather impressive given the track had been washed clean and the run off areas were daunting for those who consider a lose at Wakefield Park is no big deal.
Race one on Saturday commenced with Kevin Lewis on pole and Ted Dunford alongside. Next up was the extremely rapid Minetti Sports car of Mark Williams with Neil Kenny beside him. The next couple of rows were occupied by Tom Brickley, John Muddle, Neil Caswell and Tony Wood with the remainder of the grid taken up by the supersports, the best of which was Richard Crawshay.
In what is becoming a regular scenario, the number 1 Reynard was slow off the line allowing Kevin, Mark Williams and Neil Kenny to outdrag Ted up the hill. Ted made short work of Neil over the top of the hill and then spent a couple of laps getting past Mark before getting onto Kevin's tail with 2 laps to go. A minor brake lockup by Kev into the fishhook gave Ted his opening and he managed to hold out a very determined Kevin to the finish line. Meanwhile, the action was hot and heavy back in the pack with Tom and John being involved in spirited dicing with a number of the Supersports cars a little way back from the leaders.
Mr Consistency (aka Tony Wood) was enjoying a run in his Wren for the first time this year and the fresh engine did its job as Tony kept some of the supersports at bay for the entire race.
Unfortunately for Neil Caswell, driving Brendon Cook's Cheetah, the oil pump drive belt did not want to play beyond about lap two and the engine "gave up the ghost" at the end of the straight. I think Neil paid in excess of $100 a lap plus an engine.
The race was won by Ted with a fastest lap of 1min.02. 0938 seconds followed by Kevin with a time of 1 min.01.8669 seconds which was indicative of the "closing in" and pressure strategy Kevin applied during the race.
Sunday developed into a mild, sunny and calm day with the usual scratching of heads as the prospect of possible changes to the weather was contemplated. We all know if you do not like the weather at Wakefield Park, you wait twenty minutes. But this time it fooled everyone by continuing to improve as the day progressed. Our first race of the day was scintillating from the moment the red light went out.
Ted had great difficulty getting the Reynard away (those little flywheels require a difficult technique to be applied to introduce some useful momentum).
John Muddle had no such difficulty and as soon as the starter's signal was observed, John was away like a bloke who hadn't filed a taxation return for twenty years. His start was so good, that he only just realised that Ted's car was "bogged down" in front of him and he just managed to find a way through.
From the spectator mound at the end of the straight, it was reminiscent of the Mike Bennett/ Ron Coath melee a few years ago and could have easily had a similar outcome.
In the meantime, Kevin was gone and half way up the hill before the others had exited turn one. The gaggle of F2's and a couple of the better supersports put on an awesome display of very quick motoring. The entire race was quick and close, with some superb driving skills being displayed throughout the field.
Tom's Kaditcha was again demonstrating its new found reliability and putting in some respectable lap times despite Tom having to struggle a little with a difficult gear shift indent problem which remained with him for the weekend.
Ted was not deterred by his slow start and set out in hot pursuit of the leaders gradually closing on the white 'motor bike with mudguards' which can in no way be considered a slow race car. (Confused ? So am I - every time I see that thing run).
John Muddle was having a great weekend until something suspect occurred in the 'gallery of gears' in the very smartly turned out Ralt and he had to find his way back to the pits. John philosophically accepted the outcome of not being able to rectify the problem in situ although it was clear he was very disappointed in his usual gentlemanly manner.
Notwithstanding Kevin's more than adequate lead at the end, the rate of closure by Ted's Reynard was impressive and the old adage could easily have been applied - "if only there were two more laps ----".
For a car still fitted with Eastern Creek ratios, Kevin's Cheetah certainly showed the way and nobody could take the victory from him. Ted was very fortunate to complete the event in second place with a small electrical defect and a crack in one exhaust pipe, both of which were quickly rectified by a highly skilled crew before the next race.
(In a graphic example of the camaraderie existing within our club, Kevin Lewis welded the broken exhaust so that Ted could make the next race ...)
The last race of the day for AF2 saw a sadly reduced field face the starter. With both John's Ralt and Neil's (Brendon's) Cheetah categorised as 'DNS' it was up to Kevin, Ted, Tom and Tony to uphold the reputation of the category (I know, a slightly ambiguous statement using the word "reputation", given there were six F2 cars entered out of about 20 in various forms of repose in NSW - is this the norm or can we do better? )
The red light was extinguished and the wheel spin gradually settled as the field got away without any undue drama as they headed for turn one - Ted finally hooking the Reynard up for a decent launch. Half way up the hill, however, Mark Williams muscled past Kevin and Ted, setting the scene for some torrid laps where Kev tried everything short of the "V8 Supercar nudge" to find a way past and Ted doing likewise behind Kev. The supersports were doing a little better this time and were "mixing it" with the F2's throughout the field. The close bunching of cars during laps one and two dissipated and groups formed as they crossed the line for the third circulation.
After 10 of the 12 laps, Kev finally made a desperate dive under Mark at the end of the back straight and was through to a lead he would not relinquish. A lap later, Ted performed a similar late braking movement on Mark at the end of the main straight - the crowd collectively holding their breath as the cars slithered, side by side, into the braking area. Fortunately for both drivers, contact was avoided and they set off after Kev with Ted now in second place.
Although the racing was close within the groups, there was no sign of errant driving and each driver appeared to be enjoying their own battles.
Most of us have watched the racing from the wrong side of the fence from time to time. Whether you are accustomed to it or not, have you ever contemplated just how fast these things are going for such a small car with small capacity engines? To watch them accelerate up the hill at Wakefield Park or go past you at the pit counter, still accelerating toward the kink at the end of the straight before applying some speed retardation, is simply awesome when you think about it.
At the end of the race, and despite some spirited driving and determined efforts, no one could catch Kevin Lewis. We all hope Kevin does not put Wakefield Park ratios in the Cheetah for the next Oran Park meeting, because he is sure to be just as hard to beat if he does.
Ted again gained a lot of ground on the leader throughout the event but just couldn't get close enough to really get past into first spot. Tom again finished the meeting intact with a great and consistent effort and Tony was a respectable finisher (as usual) in the Wren. Can anyone recall that car not finishing because of mechanical problems? Fuel shortages maybe, but never mechanical!
And there you have it - A great meeting for those who finished. The times from fastest to slowest were within four to five seconds. Anyone who can get around WP under 1min 5 seconds is not going slow and there are not too many cars in any category which can get around there in 61 seconds or better. Well done to all involved. We would all like to see more of you at Oran Park on 17 and 18 May and even more again at the same venue on 19 and 20 July.
Can you visualise right now, at least 20 F2's on the grid? Best wishes to all my readers. (I couldn't resist that).